Whatever we each believe about politics, whatever we’re rooting for in Impeachment Fest 2019, we can probably agree things aren’t ideal right now in America.
Reds fans know the feeling. They might have differing ideas of what’s wrong with the recipe and how to make it better, but they can probably all agree the chili hasn’t been good. The front office chefs are still trying though, wheeling and dealing and hiring Driveline pitching guru Kyle Boddy to sprinkle his secret sauce into the pot. Combine him with pitching coach and off-speed whisperer Derek Johnson, and you’ve got a must-stop hotspot for pop-up pitching prospects.
1. SS Jose Garcia | 21 | A+ | Late 2021
2. 3B Jonathan India | 23 | AA | Mid 2021
One of the highest risers these past few months, Jose Garcia looks like the shortstop of the future in Cincinnati and could find himself near the top of prospect mountain soon if the power speed combo he unlocked late last year carries over into AA.
Jonathan India hasn’t hit for power since being drafted 5th overall, but he’s done enough of everything else to stay on track to the majors and has enough hit, patience, power and speed to be a balanced fantasy contributor.
3. LHP Nick Lodolo | 22 | A | Early 2022
4. RHP Hunter Greene | 20 | A | Mid 2022
Tim Burton. Nightmares. Christmas? Oops, got stuck in a word-association loop there.
These guys, working with Boddy and Johnson over a period of years, have frightening potential. I’m getting some Vader vibes from Nick Lodolo, but that’s probably because I’ve been listening to Binge Mode. Meant to say Hader vibes. After a dominant first crack at professional hitters, Lodolo is looking the type to fly right through the system. He’s 6’6” and incredibly deceptive with a low release point he hides until the last moment, when it comes from a place few releases do.
We’re in wait-and-see mode on Hunter Greene. I recommend sending out feelers this off-season. Pitchers often throw harder after Tommy John surgery, a fully Space Balls ludicrous-speed proposition for a guy who topped 100 with ease before the knife.
5. OF Michael Siani | 20 | A | 2023
6. 2B Jose Acosta | 20 | R | 2023
7. C Tyler Stephenson | 23 | AA | Late 2020
8. 2B Tyler Callihan | 19 | R | 2024
Michael Siani stole 45 bases in his first year of full-season pro ball. He was 19 in the Midwest league—2.2 years younger than average. I’ve bounced him all around this list because defense and speed are his carrying tools at the moment, but that’s subject to change. His approach is mostly focused on the opposite field, and if he can learn how to clear out his front shoulder on an inside pitch, he’ll add a crucial factor in determining who he’ll be at peak. He might be okay without it, but he’ll have to be strong to make that work.
Jose Acosta is a dice roll: the kind of player I’d rather just add/buy early and track from my roster than play the waiting game. If he’s bad out of the gate in full-season ball, I can just drop him and track from free agency, but if he starts hot, I have a good chance of losing out to someone who’s been tracking. No ones a secret in this game—not for long anyway. Especially not when they flirt with .400 all year and steal 24 bases without getting caught.
I don’t know what to do about Tyler Stephenson. He doesn’t strike out much, but he doesn’t hit much, either, at least not for power in games. Batting practice suggests he’s got plenty of raw, and I’m wondering if there’s a breakthrough on the horizon. It’ll be interesting to see if Cincinnati blocks him with a big free agent. Scuttlebut says they want Yasmani Grandal back.
Tyler Callihan might have a little Brandon Lowe in him as a bat-first infield prospect with enough glove to hang around. Swing looks a little like Lowe’s, too. I’m intrigued.
9. RHP Vladimir Gutierrez | 24 | AAA | Mid 2020
10. 3B Rece Hinds | 19 | R | 2024
I have Vladimir Gutierrez here because he found something down the stretch last year, and I’m betting he takes another step forward working with Boddy and Johnson this off-season. He’s also got the strikeout-hungry combination that’s all the rage these days, pairing high-velocity four-seam heat with a blood-thirsty curve.
This next guy packs more punch than a bag full of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
I can’t stand behind that.
Rece Hinds does have huge power; it’s just . . . Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are manna from heaven. And Hinds might not make enough contact to get to the good stuff in games.
In other power-based news, Watchmen is amazing. I apologize for having ever doubted.
C Chadwick Tromp | 25 | AAA | Mid 2020
Just one vowel away from conversational kryptonite, Chadwick Tromp is a ridiculous pick as a flier. He’s old and short and he’s never been good at hitting. But then he met the juicy ball of 2019 and smashed older competition during his only healthy month, posting a 150 wRC+ that rings a pretty loud bell in the homer-happy context.
One big reason I chose him is time. We shouldn’t have to wait long to find out which Tromp we see in 2020. He’s eligible for the rule 5 draft this December, and his defense behind the plate draws strong reviews, giving him an outside chance to get selected straight into a 2nd catcher competition.